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Tafferty Tarts with Earl Grey Ice Cream

The Accomplisht Cook by Robert May (1660/85) is rather like those ‘antique’ shops you find in towns like Lewes stuffed with a fascinating array of people’s discarded homewares from a bygone era. May’s book is crammed with recipes (some more appealing to the 21st century palate than others – roasted neat’s (ox) tongue anyone?) but with a dedicated rummage you can find some real gems.

The Tafferty Tart is one such jewel. The name alone is enough to intrigue although I have no idea where it comes from. In May’s original recipe sliced pippins (eating apples) are layered in a tart case interspersed with sugar, lemon peel and fennel seeds before being baked then iced with rosewater, sugar and butter. For my version I have used orange juice and zest which I feel compliments the fennel better and included a drop of sherry instead of the rosewater. It’s not essential to serve the tarts with Earl Grey ice cream although again the flavours of the tart do work well with it. Ordinary vanilla ice cream will do.

Tafferty (apple) tarts

Tafferty Tarts

Ingredients (Makes 12 small tarts)

6 eating apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1 cm dice

Zest and juice of two oranges

4 tablespoons sweet sherry

¼ tsp ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon fennel seeds, finely ground

150g caster sugar

50g unsalted butter, diced

500g puff pastry

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.

  2. Put the apples, orange juice and zest, sherry, cinnamon and fennel in a large pan cook for 5 to 10 minutes staring frequently until just done. Pour the contents of the pan into a sieve reserving both the liquid and apples (separately) until required.

  3. Take the reserved cooking liquid and place it in a clean pan with the caster sugar. Cook over a medium heat, not stirring, until the sugar caramelises. Immediately add the butter and stir vigorously. Pour over the apples and mix quickly to coat.

  4. Roll out the pastry to a thickness of 2-3mm. Cut out rounds and line 12 individual tartlette tins which have previously been buttered. Spoon a generous quantity of apple mixture into each case (don’t add too much syrup though as it can boil over in the oven). Place on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Glaze with more of the citrussy apple syrup before you serve them.

Earl Grey Ice Cream


300ml single cream

2 tbsp Earl Grey tea

4 egg yolks

100g caster sugar

300ml double cream

  1. Put the single cream and tea in a small pan. Bring to the boil then leave to infuse for 10 minutes.

  2. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar until light and fluffy. Bring the infused single cream back to the boil. Strain over the egg yolks and sugar. Return to the pan and cook until thickened. Quickly cool then refrigerate.

  3. Whip the double cream until floppy. Fold into cold tea custard. Churn in an ice cream machine according to manufacturers instructions.

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